Older Arca vs. Horseman LE vs. Zone VI (all used)

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Howdy, I am jumping into LF full blast, but of course I am torn on gear. I have the chance to get one of these cameras and can't decide as I have never seen any of them. I have done as much research as possible on the net. This will be my only camera for quite some time. I'd like to use 90-300mm, and shoot landscapes, env. portraiture, and tabletop still life stuff. I will do some mild backpacking with it but have no problems hauling heavier weights. People seem to like Arcas, even older ones so i like this one. It is the base tilt only version and is in great shape. The Horseman still has my greatest attention and seems like the best camera overall, but of course it's heavy. If I can breeak it down and it is a nice sold camera, I don't really care about the weight. How is it size wise? The Zone camera is obviously the field camera and has that great brass and wood mistique, but I want a camera that works. I have heard less than good things about Zones, but then good things too. All of these cameras clock in at less than $1000, and that's the only way I can do this so don't reccomend a DLC.

Kerry Thalmann has me foaming for a Toho and that's the only camera I have thought about possibly spending over $1k for except for maybe a newer A-S Discovery. The Toho is perfect, but I'd rather get an older camera and better glass.

Please guide me LF'ers.

-- Jeff Green (jewgreen@indiana.edu), July 28, 2000



If you tend to use WA lenses (shorter than 120mm, or so), I'd skip the Zone VI (or the Wisner Traditional). Using short lenses with these cameras requires a bed drop, and a combined tilting backwards, rising and rotating of the front standard/lens plane. It's a chore to do quickly and precisely in the field, it's hard to maintain the image circle centered on the film plane when doing so, and the front standard/lens becomes real flimsy and prone to movement when set up in this contorted configuration. For lenses of 120mm and longer, it's a nice camera, though.

I've never used a LE, but it looks like a real nice, full-featured monorail, at a good price. I'm sure others can discuss and critique the Arca design.

Good luck with your choice. Sergio.

-- Sergio Ortega (s.ortega@worldnet.att.net), July 28, 2000.

I can only speak for the Arca, I use one for still life quite a lot. The great advantage that I have found (over my Sinar) is that it is very quick and easy to alter the position of the standards, and the Arca allows far move movement (subject of course to lens coverage) than the Sinar. Used for still life you will presumably normally use a 210/240 lens, which normally has excellent coverage, especially at close up.

-- Garry Edwards (creativephoto60@hotmail.com), July 29, 2000.

I can only speak for the Arca-Swiss. I use an old one, with the base tilts and a 90 mm and a 150 mm lens. I have any of the movements I would require (and then some). I find it sturdy when used with a good tripod (the one I have for the moment isn't really good, due to the quick-lock on the tripod head being a tad too small). I love it for being very light and small. I have been hiking with this outfit and it works great.

I use mine for close-ups and landscapes mostly.

All the controls are tight, although as with any camera it takes some time to get used to them. But LF isn't always about being fast, so when things don't go my way, I just take deep breath...

The only problem might be that you will have to order a bag bellows for it, if you want to use a 90 mm or shorter lens for any extensive movements. They have to be ordered from Arca-Swiss. I have been in contact with Arca-Swiss in Switzerland and I have been told that there is very little spare parts for such an old camera, but the beauty of LF is that many parts are possible to make, or have someone to make.

Good luck with whatever camera

-- Jimi Axelsson (jerevan@bigfoot.com), July 29, 2000.

I use a Zone VI. While its OK for field work, I wouldn't recomend it for tabletop. Coming from using an Omega D monorail, it took time for me to become accustomed to the sloppy movements of this camera. I used to haul the monorail out in the field and the wieght/bulk of the system limited where and what I would shoot.

-- Ron McElroy (rnrmcelroy@aol.com), July 30, 2000.

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